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Don Garber

Quick Friday Thoughts


Houston and Seattle played a classic match last night on national television. The unsporting Freddy Montero was unable to hand the physical pounding Dom Kinnear and the Houston defenders had in store for the much hyped, but little regarded (at least in Colombia) forward. Montero’s solution: whine and go to ground easily.

Montero has not had the impact in MLS yet that Carlos Ruiz or Raul Diaz Arce, two classic divers who scored a ton of goals previously had. He hasn’t earned the respect yet of fans, fellow players and the officials. While criticizing any part of the Seattle success story is considered out of line in some parts, Montero is the type of footballer that makes me want to for a minute consider the arguments so many hostile fans to the game in the US make about diving and cheating.

For a team that features two consummate professionals in Kasey Keller and Freddie Ljunberg, Montero’s presence is a blight on an otherwise bright season for Sigi Schmid’s side.

Going into the second leg at Estadio Robertson, the question is have the Dynamo learned from last year’s fluke collapse versus Red Bull in the return leg. My guess is that they have, and we won’t have to put up with another match on the rubber in Seattle this season (thank goodness.)


The US U-17 team has been none too impressive in the World Cup being held in Nigeria. I met Wilmer Cabrerra soon after he took the job and moved to Bradenton and have been impressed with his demeanor and willingness to impart a different style into our kids. But without Charles Renken, Joseph Gyau, and Sebastian Lletget, the team lacks the flair and quality going forward Cabrerra wants.

The 1-0 win over Malawi yesterday was borderline embarrassing. Malawi is a dirt poor country for whom this is the first ever major tournament. Madonna has kept the nation in the headlines lately but brought attention to just how bad the situation is there. The US needed a goal keeping blunder that made Iker Casillas mistake versus AC Milan last week look tame, to win with a single goal.

The final group match against the United Arab Emirates will be challenging. The UAE has developed some good young players the past few years and with the Abu Dhabi consortium’s purchase of Manchester City and DIC’s continued interest in Liverpool and other football related projects, the UAE is only going to grow stronger in the game as we look ahead. The nation last qualified for a World Cup in 1990 under Carlos Alberto Parriera after the legendary Don Revie had left managing England to develop the UAE program.


The USL vs TOA saga continues to drag on into its third month. I’ve done some reporting over at the Kartik Report on the matter in the past few days. MLS Commissioner Don Garber, somewhat surprisingly has taken an active and healthy interest in the matter. After a few meetings in New York at MLS HQ (called by the USSF) three weeks ago, the TOA stated a case which I am told was compelling to Garber.

The MLS Commissioner has worked hard to find a solution to the dispute, and has in the process proven that some of his bravado about USL and  perceived ignorance of those clubs is just that: when it comes down to it, he is making an effort to help the game throughout the US and Canada.

Another curiosity of the entire situation is why the two Canadian based USL-1 teams have been negotiating directly with the USSF. Is the CSA so irrelevant, that Vancouver and Montreal’s ownership doesn’t even bother to deal with that governing body in resolving their dispute with USL, a league that is after all sanctioned by the CSA as well as the USSF?

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  1. Berlin

    October 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Are you living underground? Seattle gets plenty of publicity. If not for the fact that it’s so cool to see a US city in love with soccer, I would be sick of it. You’ll get to see another sell out come November 8. Forever Orange.

  2. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    The players should just tell Garber to have the final played on grass. Can’t they roll the stuff in for a FINAL? And God forbid that someone publicy challenge Garber’s wisdom.

    Gotta go. My wife is screaming over an NPR report that claims that New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are part of New England.

  3. Charles

    October 30, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Agreed, I just don’t care what they do in Europe, Brazil etc.
    So yes, FIFA needs to solve it for the World Cup too, as I care about that also.

  4. Charles

    October 30, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I agree with sidereal,

    Seattle still doesn’t get much written aboutit for what it is accomplishing. It is what the league needs to accomplish, get the average Joe to be a huge soccer fan.
    Sure there were only 36,000 fans at the game last night, but that was just because most couldn’t get tickets. The next round if in Seattle will be a real sell out ( 67k ).
    I would like to see the amount of merchandise revenue, TV and radio revenue. The sport is huge here. Everyone is sporting Sounders gear, I mean everyone. The guy sitting next to me, baseball guy, Yankee fan, watched the Sounders last night instead of the World Series.
    To the guy that called Don the Gerbil an idiot, I don’t disagree, but they should hold the MLS Cup in Seattle every year. Get used to fake grass, unless global warming speeds up it will be raining in Seattle, and unless hell freezes over, the Seahawks and Sounders will be sharing a sold-out stadium.

  5. Charles

    October 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    The MLS is to blame for not cracking down on diving.

    Giving a yellow card once in a while for diving doesn’t work. Have they never watched a soccer game?
    If a player is seen to go down without being touched, red card, and if confirmed by reviewing after the game, suspend him for life. It is cheating and should be penalized as such.

    Harsh ? Who cares, you would never have to do it…diving would stop tomorrow.

    • Rex

      October 30, 2009 at 2:49 pm

      Just MLS? Diving is a plague all over the world and IMHO is the biggest threat to the beautiful game. Its just the physical play and inconsistent refereeing in MLS makes it worse.

  6. sidereal

    October 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Oh, but back to Kartik’s original comment:
    Freddie dives as much as Fredy does, and he bitches out the refs ten times as much, so it’s weird that you consider him a ‘consummate professional’ in contrast. I mean, he is. But it’s not because he stays on his feet. He’s playing the game the way he played it in Europe, and Fredy is playing it the way he played it in Colombia, and they’re both going to have to adjust to MLS-style play (Well maybe not Ljungberg, since he’s winding down).

    Salazar’s dual yellow was helpful in that regard and I gained some respect for him there. A red on Onstand (which would have arguably been justified) would have just made it worse next season.

  7. Kyle

    October 30, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Fact is Montero faces a vastly uneven amount of rough play against him, based on the number of fouls that are actually called on him (in addition to so many that are NOT called). If you ever take the time to watch him actually play you can see how defenders would rather push or shove him to the ground then get caught having him dribble right past them. He is an extremely good player, and has proved it time and time again with some rather amazing scoring. Last night, Pat Onstead should have been called for the shoulder shove foul, not a “slight bump” as he called it. The sounders even had a goal taken away because of the stupidly eager whistle of the bumbling officials. At least the next game will be a different and undoubtedly more competent officiating crew.

    • Rex

      October 30, 2009 at 2:46 pm

      Montero is good. The problem is, he uses his still to draw fouls (then embellish) not to beat players. He would rather get the ball passed a player and then initiate contact and flop rather than just run past the player and beat him.

  8. sidereal

    October 30, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Joey.

    “The region’s biggest metropolitan areas are Seattle/Tacoma, Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Portland, Oregon.”

    I’ll let the rest of your comment stand as the last word in all its glory.

  9. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Plastic, digo.

  10. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    sidereal: If Vancouver is in Canada’s extreme southwest, how can it be part of our Northwest? And what does any of that have to do with the game or Montero? Kartik’s criticism was meant to be a “quick thought” and not analysis. Didn’t you catch that? And when you guys end up with your Cascadian three-way, you’ll be having your fun on grass. Is everyone out there as stupid as you?

    • Michael

      October 30, 2009 at 7:31 pm

      So you’re saying Kartik doesn’t have to think properly when thinking “quick”? Or are you saying he just doesn’t?

      • Kartik

        October 31, 2009 at 6:40 am

        I was asking a rhetorical question given that according to FIFA’s Laws of the Game, domestic clubs are to be governed by a domestic federation or not be eligible to participate in domestic cup competitions. Welsh teams governed by the English FA are not eligible for the Welsh Cup or to qualify for Europe via the Welsh cup.

        Nobody even tries to hide the appearance that Canadian clubs are governed by the USSF anymore. The fact is that the management of both Vancouver and Montreal went to New York to meet with the USSF at MLS HQ (another interesting issue: why is the federation holding meetings in the league’s HQ instead of its own?).

        Anyway, the USSF/MLS interference in this USL mess seems to have been helpful but I am still struck that nobody appears to have consulted or involved the CSA in these negotiations that involve two teams that must be governed by the CSA because they participate in the Canadian Cup, and in Montreal’s case they represented Canada, not USL or the US in the CONCACAF Champions League last year.

        It’s a matter of procedure. We know the answer- the CSA is impotent and irrelevant and so the Canadian clubs seeking a solution to a dispute with the league have asked the USSF to intervene. But it does appear to be a violation of protocol.

        • Jess

          October 31, 2009 at 10:07 am

          Kartik and Joey Clams just don’t get it.

          In North America, we often think as one people. FIFA has smartly not forced the national association/federation rules on Canadian clubs because they and their fans identify more with the United States. TFC has been a god send to MLS. Everything Seattle has been and more. Vancouver will be amazing when they come up to MLS.

          Now USL has announced they are opening a Canadian office to compliment league HQ in Tampa. That’s because USL has so many teams in Canada within its member leagues.

          Kartik, Joey Clams and others who make arguments about the Wales situation being different, and Luxembourg, etc are ignoring the reality of the culture in North America.

          Why is it Canadian citizens go through the same passport lines as Americans at the airports while all foreigners go through another one? We are in spirit, one nation.

          Furthermore, I don’t like the code Kartik is using here. Clearly he was trying to set off some degree of jingoistic fervor by Americans whom he hoped would respond “yeah, Montreal and Vancouver, deal with your own federation and form your own league.” His further explanation just above makes his agenda perfectly clear.

          Once USL sets up its Canadian office and the two current USL-1 teams move to MLS, you need to give up this fight.

          • Jose

            October 31, 2009 at 9:51 pm

            Whatever rationalizations are given domestic clubs leagues and cups are to be governed by domestic FAs . Wales and Monoco are tiny nations and the clubs there cannot represent their countries in Europe.

          • Tony

            November 1, 2009 at 6:27 am

            USL is setting a Canadian office?


  11. sidereal

    October 30, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    So an expansion team is still in the playoffs and smote league attendance records in the process, and remains 2-0-2 against one of the best (and more likely: the best) clubs in the league. And Kartik’s contribution is that Fredy is a flopper (he is, although his only real flop last night was on the Onstad shove. And it’s not like he ever goes down without contact. He just embellishes the hell out of it) and he doesn’t like the surface. Nice work. Great analysis.

    You’re going to be even more tongue-tied when Portland comes into the league (assuming they get a place to play) and half the attendance in the game is in the two (then three, in Vancouver) Northwest cities. And you’ll have to convert the site to recipes or birdwatching news or something to avoid having to say something nice about them.

  12. Cidolfas

    October 30, 2009 at 11:00 am


    Rico has a right to the ball too, and given that Jaqua brought his head into that challenge after Clark was set and going for the ball I can’t blame the ref for not giving a card. It’s a foul only because Jaqua got hit in the head.

    What was a card they didn’t give was Ching’s late tackle. Should’ve been yellow, but somehow people on the internet say red. Was it two-footed? Yes, but it was clearly on the ball and not the player. It wasn’t studs up, and he only ever hit the player with his crotch area. They also didn’t call a professional foul against Clark (hard to say if it’s a card, I’d give it as a first yellow but not as a second) where he ripped down Montero as he was trying to pass him. There wasn’t even a call on that one.

    Most of the cards last night I agreed with. People call Houston thugs for playing physical on the ball, but Seattle was knocking players down off the ball all night. Montero dives like Carlos Ruiz does (of course he’s going to fall when he props himself up against Holden and then Holden runs away! no way that’s a foul!) and sadly, by the end, so were Ljungberg and Zakuwani. There was one particular comical one where, off the ball, Ljungberg lunges at a Dynamo player and then immediately falls to the ground like he was shot. Except the Dynamo player never moved towards him. Then Ljungberg gets up and starts yelling at the AR for not calling that.

    What I’m more concerned about is, if the Dynamo advance will they have enough players not injured or on suspension to compete against either LA team? I hope so (also, I think the Galaxy/Chivas will have the same problem) but missing Chabala, Hainault, and Mullan is going to be problematic formation-wise.

  13. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Excellent post, C Webb. Maybe we can organize a charity match between a team that includes your Diving Five and one that includes John Doyle, Danny Peña, Bocanegra, CJ Brown and Joey Franchino.

  14. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 10:44 am

    There’s been a lot of funny stuff, though, when it comes to MLS, Canada, the USSF and, I guess you’d have to say, the CSA.

    I love the sudden urgency. Winks and nods no longer cut it, I suppose.

  15. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 10:42 am

    The officiating was horrible but Jaqua could have easily been called for putting himself in danger.

  16. jayoh

    October 30, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Say what you will about Montero diving, I tend to agree, but that match was so poorly officiated last night; it’s an embarrassment to the MLS…especially in the playoffs, when are we going to see ref’s who can control the game…half the cards given last night shouldn’t have been cards. And what the heck was that sham of a no-call on Jacqua getting cleated in the head. Not too mention one of the linesmen couldn’t even keep up with the play…it was ridiculous start to finish last night.

  17. Lars

    October 30, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Kartik, the CSA won’t say no to Vancouver and Montreal because they’re two big clubs (relatively speaking). Why should they bother?

  18. C Webb

    October 30, 2009 at 9:53 am

    When thinking of classic divers in the pantheon of MLS history, Raul Diaz Arce doesn’t spring to mind. In fact, he was one of the more honest players around. I don’t get the diver tag being put on him.

    With that being said, here is short list of accomplished divers in MLS history.

    1. Alejandro Moreno – his Lougainis like flops are now reaching comical proportions. Still considered one of the hardest workers in MLS, he now has gone over the top with his flopping.

    2. Diego Serna – enough said

    3. Blanco – see above – His histrionics at this point are more comical, but it still frustrates anyone who plays against him and somehow the referee’s never seem to get the memo..

    4. Fredy Montero – quickly getting a bad diving reputation. Well deserved

    5. Carlos Ruiz – very much the Paternal figure in being a completely physical player who can dish it out and not take. Falls to the ground at every opportunity. A complete disservice to the Beautiful Game. A flat out cheat.

  19. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 9:08 am

    francesco: Thanks for reminding us of yet another of Garber’s stupid decisions. A final on plastic. Nice one, Don, you idiot.

  20. francesco

    October 30, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Kartik you’re forgetting that the MLS final will be held on that same rubbery pitch in Seattle.

    • Michael

      October 30, 2009 at 7:26 pm

      I’m getting tired of Kartik’s self-styled contrarianism. In his rush to start a flame war he has again ignored a basic fact: knocking Seattle out of the playoffs won’t get him one second less of playing time on artificial turf. Maybe if you actually paid attention to MLS…

      He moves so quickly from “a classic match” to flame-baiting that one’s neck could snap from the whiplash. Kartik, if you want to talk diving, there’s this team called the Columbus Crew? They won the trophy that you really prefer to think of as the one of highest value? No comment on the synchronized flops that would have you believe one Seattle player could control the ball while simultaneously tripping two opposing players?

      And funny he didn’t turn on New England, who not only plays on turf but has owners who don’t care about removing the NFL lines and logos when another sport is being played at their stadium.

  21. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Montero is going to end up with a broken leg if he keeps it up. I’d love to hear that an opposing captain, during the coin-toss, said to Kelleher and the refs, “If that diving tart pulls his crap tonight, he’s going to end up in a wheelchair.” What kind of treatment did Seattle’s fans expect from a Kinnear-coached team? Pecks on the cheek?

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